ReelBob: ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ ★★½

By Bob Bloom

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is like the bowler who rolls a perfect 300 game, but follows that up with a 220 score. It’s a solid performance, but pales in comparison to the initial effort.

The movie contains all the elements that made “Kingsman: The Secret Service” such cheeky fun. But sometimes you can’t go to the same well twice and hope for the identical results.

When a foul-mouthed Elton John flips off the head villain and uses martial arts moves to defeat some of her minions is the most satisfying and original pieces of this sequel, you know the movie has problems.

Which brings us to the film’s main storyline: a drug queenpin who has a vastly different agenda.

It’s a refreshing premise, especially since the villain, Poppy Adams (a sunny and sinister Julianne Moore) is portrayed as a bizarre mash-up of Marion Cunningham and Tony Montana.

So, what does all this have to do with Kingsman? Well, it seems that Charlie, one of the Kingsman candidates who flunked out of the program during the first film, has thrown in with Poppy and convinces her to take out Kingsman.

After that, it’s up to Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) to uphold the Kingsman tradition.

The two discover clues that send them to the United States, where they hook up with Statesman, the American counterpart of Kingsman.

Instead of being fronted by a men’s clothing store, Statesman is secretly headquartered in a Kentucky distillery. Thus, Stateman’s agents have such names as Champagne, Tequila and Whiskey, instead of Arthur, Merlin and Galahad. You get the idea.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” runs about 140 minutes, much of which seems like padding.

Sure, we get Colin Firth back as Harry, who was supposedly killed in the original. But, hey, this is the movies and no actor signed to a multi-franchise contract stays dead for long.

The movie’s most imaginative parts are set in Poppy Land, Poppy’s secret lair in the jungles of Cambodia that is a mixture of a 1950s Disneyland Main Street and a “Happy Days” backlot set, with a pizza parlor, diner, hot dog vendor and movie theater.

Again, director Matthew Vaughn, who helmed the first movie, and screenwriter Jane Goldman, fail to take advantage of that set’s potential, using it as a big demolition playground.

A silly subplot involving the president of the United States is supposed to add some political context to the film. Instead, it comes across as stupid and spiteful.

The talents of the Statesman crew, especially Jeff Bridges as Champagne, Channing Tatum as Tequila and Halle Berry as Ginger Ale, Merlin’s techie counterpart, seem wasted.

After a while, you get the sense that “The Golden Circle” is not so much a sequel, but an attempt for a Statesman American spinoff of the franchise.

Either way, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” lacks imagination and panache. The movie has a cynical go-for-the-buck vibe that buries the fun shock and awe that made the first feature so enjoyable.

I am a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. My reviews appear at ReelBob (reelbob.com) and Rottentomatoes (www.rottentomatoes.com). I also review Blu-rays and DVDs. I can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Links to my reviews can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
2½ stars out of 4
(R), graphic violence, language, sexual situations, drug content

 

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